What are the different levels of charging?

By Paul Gipe

There are two levels of charging that are used frequently: Level 2, and DCFC. Level 2 is for charging at 240 volts and is typically done at home overnight.

DCFC is DC fast charge capability, measured in kW, and is found at stations in shopping centers or along major highways. DCFC stations charge at 400 volts or more.

First, never, ever, buy an EV without fast charge capability. Never! Even if you don’t plan to use it, the person who buys the car after you may want to–or need to–use it. The car simply has more utility if it has DCFC capability. No car should be manufactured without it. That they are is an indictment against the auto companies for their shortsightedness.

For Level 2, the power dispensed at 240 volts is limited by its source as well as the car as measured in amps. More amps equals more power. The 2015 Nissan Leaf could draw as much as 27 amps, or 6.5 kW, delivering about 6 kW to the battery. The Chevy Bolt will draw 32 amps or 7.7 kW, feeding 7.4 kW to the battery.

For DC fast charging, mid-price range EVs in 2019 can effectively use the same power. The Kona can draw 70 kW, the Bolt 55 kW. That’s not a big enough difference to be important. Tesla charges at 125 kW–that’s twice the Bolt. That’s a big difference–and a good reason that many get a Tesla.